Kaneland junior Kyle Carter aspires to get his name out there, even after a season in which he shined in the oft-highlighted 800 meters.
That event garners its share of attention from track and field fans, so perhaps part of his solution rests in simply staying put.
"People always say it's their favorite race just because it's such a tough race," Carter said. "It's my favorite, too. It's always fun to hear people saying they enjoyed the race and are looking forward to it."
With more eyes the Knights than at any other point this season, Carter dashed his preferred distance to help Kaneland's 4x800-meter relay team win a 2A state title last month. Traffic and falling bodies prompted Carter to stop as he took the baton from lead leg Conor Johnson, but Carter accepted and overcame the challenge.
The Kane County Chronicle Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year did his share of that this spring. What coach Eric Baron enjoyed most was Carter's selflessness. He opted against competing in the open 800 for the state series in favor of giving his best to the relays. Carter also ran with the Knights' runner-up 4x400.
"He's just such an unselfish kid. It says a lot about his character and about who he is and how he believes in the program and believes in his teammates," Baron said.
Baron has seen athletes excel in the 800 and 4x800 before, but it's a steeper challenge when he or she is asked to navigate that schedule on consecutive days, as in the state meet.
Since Carter still has one more season remaining, Baron feels better about the decision. Carter knows he'll have more chances, too, and that he comes equipped with the skills to capitalize on them.
In last month's Northern Illinois Big 12 Meet at Dixon, Carter cruised to the 800 title in 1:54.46, the second-fastest time in 2A this season.
"I've always liked running. I've always been quick," Carter said. "Seventh grade is the first year you can sign up for track in middle school, so I did and I really enjoyed it."
Carter has grinned alongside senior teammate Nathaniel Kucera for much of that span. The two found themselves in similar event and training groups from an early age, and developed a deeper bond during high school cross country seasons.
On Saturday, both are set to compete in the 800 at the Midwest Distance Gala at Benedictine after meeting qualifying standards during the spring.
There figures to be plenty of friendly banter, which persisted even as the Knights won the 4x800 (7:50.26) and took second in the 4x400 (3:20.06).
"It's always one of us trying to beat the other and always a back-and-forth nature," Kucera said. "But it's all good intentions and helps us push ourselves to our best."
Johnson also was part of both medal-winning relays. Luis Acosta ran the third leg of the 4x800, while Dylan Nauert anchored the 4x400.
Carter and Kucera continued regular workout regimens after the state series as the Midwest meet loomed. Carter plans to take a breather sometime soon, but he's fine with staying active, especially as he seeks to build a profile with college suitors.
"Just kept going with our training, didn't take any days off," Carter said. "We didn't want to throw anything off or anything."